In education, collaboration is the truly one of the best ways to become a successful teacher. It is vital to work with fellow teachers. We not only have to rely on one other for certain tasks, but we also need to use those with more experience. When I became a teacher, I relied on my cooperating teacher to help guide me to find my way. Due to her experience, I was able to develop great classroom management skills as well as designing innovative lesson plans. Now, that I don't have a cooperating teacher with me anymore, I have to rely on other resources. My teammates have become crucial when it comes to integrating subjects and classroom behavior; however, the internet has also become one of most reliable resources to create lesson plans. Being that we are all educators to 21st Century Learners, it is important for us to use strategies such as collaboration to create a successful learning experiences for our students.
When it comes to collaboration, it can happen in a variety of ways. Collaboration can happen within intrapersonal exchanges. Roblyer described these to methods of communicating via technology. Examples of this would be email exchanges among teachers/students and teachers and parents. Students can conduct cooperative learning through problem solving, simulated activities, and data analysis with webquests or other online activities. Over the last few years, Google Docs has become a popular way to submit work online and share with teachers and other students. The internet has changed collaboration to include other ways than just sitting next to each other to do a project or talking with one another. It can now be done virtually.
Not only does the internet change ways for students to collaborate, but it has completely changed for teachers. The main source of communication among teachers is email. For me, it has become second nature to check my school email every free moment I can. Along with email, there are blogs, wikis, and sites dedicated to just teachers. Within in a few clicks of a mouse or keyboard, I'm able to find countless lesson plans or ideas that are pertaining to my subject area. Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming how much is available. The key is to recognize how to use it.
At the middle school level, the teachers rely on technology as well as each other. For example, my teammates and I try to integrate writing across the curriculum. In order for this to happen, we definitely need to collaborate with one another. Usually, the Language Arts teacher will help us create common key concepts, communicate these concepts to us virtually, and the rest of us integrate them into our subject areas. An example of this is how I had the student read an article about declining pollinators and had to create an nonlinguistic representation of the article. The Language Arts had taught this skill to the students the day before, and she let me know via email. Then I was able to assess the students knowledge of the concept in Science.
Along with my teammates, I rely heavily on my Librarian and Technology Specialist. As expressed in the brochure, Librarians do help students achieve standards in a variety of ways, Things such as providing materials for teachers, strategies to incorporate information literacy, and purchasing databases/software, can really enhance a teacher's curriculum. By collaborating with with my school's librarian and technology specialist, I've been able to enhance my lesson plans with technological components and cooperative learning skills. The librarian and I are currently in the process of designing a project using GoAnimate for my students disease project. In previous years, I've usually required my students to write a research paper, but this year, I will enhance the 21st Century Learning by revising the lesson to include technology. With the Librarian's help, I am able to learn how to use the program, have her expertise available to the students during class time, and develop a rubric that makes the project much more effective and purposeful than just a typical, boring research paper. As a way to make sure to communicate each other's role in this project, we are using the Collaboration Planning Organizer. This will record the standards, essential questions, technological resources, and purpose to each activity. By filling out this graphic organizer, it will create a cooperative learning experience for each student as well as for the teachers.
Personally, I believe the expectations to Collaboration are respect and communication. It is important to respect each other's time, ideas, and effort. When you respect each other's time, things have a tendency to be done in a more efficient manner. When you communicate well, it can really make something outstanding. Some of the best ways to communicate may be using a graphic organizer, lesson plan template, or web based strategy. By modeling this type of collaboration, the students are also able to learn the skills to collaborate.
Collaborative lesson plan organizer. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.lrs.org/documents/lmcstudies/collab_plan_organizer.pdf
Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/collaborate
Lance, K., Rodney, M., & Hamilton-Pennwell, C. (n.d.). How school librarians. Retrieved from http://www.lrs.org/documents/lmcstudies/CO/CO2brochure.pdf
Roblyer, M.D., & Doering. A.H.(Ed.).(Recent edition). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Boston, MA: Allyn&Bacon.